In the world of technology, many success stories have humble beginnings. Andrei Rukavina’s is no exception.

“It all began with a chance encounter at a hackathon I took part in for fun in 2018," recalls Andrei Rukavina, a Partner in AlixPartners’ Technology, Media & Telecom group. "After being eliminated, I connected with the founder of Hack Club, Zach Latta, who had also been knocked out of the competition!" Hack Club is an initiative aimed at high-school students around the globe, and Andrei saw the potential such a program could have back home in Argentina.

Having delved into how Zach had gotten his own off the ground, he decided to bring this experience to his hometown in San Nicolas de los Arroyos, Buenos Aires Province. Andrei rallied local leaders and resources to establish the first Argentinean hack club at his high school. It was a big hit with the kids and inspired Andrei to think about how he could do more to address a deeper need for technical education.

Partnering with the local development agency and several technology companies, he co-founded Nodotec, a non-profit aimed at fostering technology innovation and promoting education in the field. "Forming Nodotec was just the first step," Andrei explained. 

"We saw a disconnect between the opportunities available to young students in STEM, and the technical resource constraints in Argentinian companies. That's when we decided to launch the Robotics Program."

The road to the Robotics Program's inception was fraught with challenges, from securing funding to overcoming logistical hurdles, but, like his elimination from the Chicago hackathon, it only fueled Andrei’s determination. Andrei's perseverance paid off when a local competitor to LEGO offered a tailored training program for aspiring young engineers, and, with the support of sponsors and the local government, his vision turned into reality.

Within four days of the program registration opening, they received more than 2,000 applications from children aged between 8 and 13. They only had spaces to accept 12% of those who applied, and had to make hard decisions, focusing on gender diversity and working to keep siblings together.

The inaugural Robotics Program, held during the summer break of 2024, blew typical classroom experiences out of the water. Kids built operational robots, created coding programs, and puzzled through failures and setbacks. The impact was profound and extended beyond technical skills. The “hackers” began to imagine a world of possibility in their futures.

"We received an overwhelming response from parents and students alike," Andrei said. "For many, it was a transformative experience, opening doors to a world of possibilities."

The success of the summer program has snowballed. Nodotec now aims to expand its reach and impact to 750 kids throughout the year. 

As Andrei continues to chart the course for Nododtec’s future, he remains grateful for the support and enthusiasm from all the people that propelled the Robotics Program forward, and to AlixPartners for giving him flexibility to pursue his passion, including volunteering time off. "It's a collective effort," he emphasized. "Together, we're building a brighter, tech-driven future for Argentina."